Sandra Lupien Named Outstanding Leader in Sustainable Development | MSUToday

A new program at Michigan State University is creating quite a stir over an emerging type of sustainable wood building material. Crain’s Detroit Business took notice by naming Sandra Lupien, director of [email protected], to its inaugural list of “Notable Leaders in Sustainability.”

“I’m honored that Crain’s has included me on this list of inspiring sustainability leaders — some of whose work I’ve followed for years,” said Lupien, who joined MSU in July 2021. “And, I’m even more excited that this recognition will increase awareness of opportunities to realize a range of benefits – forest health and resilience, low-carbon buildings and new economic development opportunities – by advancing sustainable mass timber manufacturing and construction in the Michigan.

Mass Timber is an umbrella term to describe a variety of large-scale engineered wood building materials that can be used decoratively or structurally in an array of building types, including skyscrapers. Demand is growing in the United States for materials like CLT and glulam, for their flexibility, strength, efficiency, fire resistance, and low carbon footprint.

Crain’s Notables in Michigan series honors outstanding business leaders who are making meaningful contributions in their fields, giving back to their communities, and raising the next generation of leaders. Notables are nominated by their peers and complete a detailed nomination form. Crain editors select recipients based on their professional accomplishments, track record of success, and effectiveness of their efforts.

Granger Construction, the Lansing-based firm that served as the general contractor on MSU’s STEM Teaching and Learning Center (Michigan’s first mass timber structure), nominated Lupien for recognition from Crain.

“Sandra’s passion for sustainable building practices, including the use of solid wood, aligns with the goal of Crain’s Notable Sustainability Leaders list,” said Project Manager Bill Bofysil. Principal at Granger Construction. “Sandra excels at moving the needle from awareness to action. Her goal is to advance sustainable hardwood construction and manufacturing in Michigan, and I’m confident she will achieve that.

Lupien has a diverse professional background, including more than a decade spent working in the not-for-profit and public sectors on a range of environmental and climate change, land use and development issues. community, and health. She says she “caught the mass timber bug” in 2016 while pursuing a mid-career master’s degree in public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Concerned about the severity of the fires and the climate implications of overly dense conditions and mass tree mortality in California forests, she co-founded a small furniture company to use and market products made from pine trees killed by an infestation of bark beetles. But with hundreds of millions of trees dying, she and her co-founder quickly sought more scalable uses for the neglected wood. They began researching mass lumber manufacturing, and Lupien explored policy angles in his master’s thesis “Removing Barriers to Cross-Laminated Timber Manufacturing and Adoption in California: A Game Changer for forests, forest fires and climate”.

When the opportunity arose to bring that expertise to Michigan – where she spent the first 24 years of her life – Lupien jumped at the chance to lead [email protected] The program is a collaboration between the Forestry Department; School of Planning, Design and Construction; and Extension, all housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Sandra brings incredibly valuable expertise to the intersection of solid wood as a building material, politics, sustainability and climate change,” said Richard Kobe, Chairman of the Forestry Department. “His work demonstrates that we can have a triple win – for sustainable economic development, beautiful and healthy buildings, the climate and the environment.

Lupien points out that a group of MSU faculty, including Kobe, George Berghorn, and others affiliated with [email protected], laid the foundation for the program and mass timber work in Michigan, working with agencies from State and non-profit organizations like the Michigan Forest. Institute of Biomaterials.

In addition to advancing MSU’s mass timber research and education, [email protected] hosts webinars, offers educational tours of the STEM facility, provides technical assistance, policy advocacy, and facilitates collaboration and the partnership to advance sustainable mass timber manufacturing and construction in Michigan and the surrounding region. In April, Lupien will lead a delegation of more than 50 Michigan residents to the International Mass Timber Conference in Portland, Oregon. State agencies, including the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, contribute funding to support Lupien’s position and the work of [email protected] and serve as key partners .

“Sandra is extremely knowledgeable about mass timber and has taken over,” said Shannon Lott, Natural Resources Assistant at MNR. “She has built relationships with key industries, state agencies, and legislators in a very short time. She was instrumental in leveraging MSU’s new hardwood STEM building to tell the story of the solid wood, securing additional funding, promoting the need for a CLT plant in Michigan, and supporting updated solid wood building codes in Michigan.With his enthusiasm, conversations about solid wood exploded and the Awareness has skyrocketed!”

For more information:

About Crain Michigan Notables or to nominate someone for Notables Recognition, visit or email [email protected]
About Sandra Lupien
About [email protected]
About MSU STEM Teaching and Learning Center